City clerk: Voter information in state database

NASHUA – The voter information being sought by President Donald Trump’s election commission is already in the hands of the state, thanks to a 2006 law that helped create a statewide voter checklist.

Nashua City Clerk Patricia Piecuch said Thursday that the local data collected in the city is entered into the state checklist.

“We control the data going into that checklist,” she said.

The Help America Vote Act in 2006 streamlined the voter registration process, and added centralized voter checklists to many states, including New Hampshire. With the change came easier access for the state to get the information.

The state can and does sell access to the list to organizations and political candidates. However, Piecuch said, the information the state sells is the same information that is already available to the public. The information includes the name, address and party identification of the registered voters.

Checklists are available in the clerk’s office for members of the public to inspect, she said, but the city does not sell the information, or release it.

Bill Gardner, New Hampshire’s secretary of state, said only names, addresses, party affiliation and voting history are public, and have been since the 1800s. He also explained his broader goal: figuring out how to restore public trust in the election process at a time when some Americans believe there is voter fraud.

Under state law, anyone can view the statewide voter database at the state archives building, but it can’t be copied or transmitted. The same law allows Gardner to sell the database to political parties, political committees and candidates. But members of the public can’t get a copy of the entire file, and Gardner’s critics argue he has no authority to either sell or give the database to the commission.

Gardner said he is awaiting an opinion from the state attorney general’s office, but believes it is legal for him to provide or sell the information to the commission. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu agreed, noting that the database wouldn’t exist had the federal government not mandated its creation and paid for it.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.